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Saunders Signs New Deal At ESPN

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John Saunders, one of ESPN’s longest-tenured and most accomplished commentators, has reached a new multi-year agreement with ESPN, it was announced by Mark Gross, ESPN senior vice president, production and remote events. Saunders, who joined ESPN in 1986, will continue to appear on college football studio coverage, including anchoring regular-season Saturdays on ABC alongside Mack Brown and Mark May, and a hosting role on the College Football Playoff on ESPN. He will also call play-by-play on select college basketball games and will remain host of The Sports Reporters.

“John has done it all during his exceptional career,” Gross said. “Fans have become accustomed to his smooth and informative approach, and we are thrilled he will build upon his amazing run at ESPN.”

Saunders added, “I’m closing in on 40 years as a sportscaster, during which time I’ve covered or hosted The World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup Finals, NBA Finals, College Football title games and the Final Four. But I am most proud of the 28 plus years I’ve spent as part of our family here at ESPN.  Bob (Ley), Boomer (Chris Berman) and I all started on SportsCenter, and the three of us are coming up on a combined 101 years at ESPN. How many places can say that? This is home.”

Since joining ESPN as a SportsCenter anchor, Saunders has hosted and/or provided play-by-play for a variety of sports – college football, college basketball, NHL, NBA, MLB, WNBA and more.  In his role, he has traveled to many of the top sporting events, anchoring on-site coverage.

A former colleague and close friend of the late Jim Valvano, Saunders was a founding member and serves on the board of directors for The V Foundation for Cancer Research, and is actively involved in many of the organization’s fundraising events and initiatives.

He came to ESPN from WMAR-TV in Baltimore, where he had worked since 1982 as an anchor of three daily sports reports. He also hosted the Baltimore Orioles pre-game program Orioles on Deck and provided analysis for Baltimore Colts preseason games.

Saunders, a native Canadian, called play-by-play for the Toronto Raptors on CKVR-TV and CITY-TV (1995-2001). He was the main sports anchor for CITY-TV in Toronto from 1980-82 as well as ATV News in New Brunswick (1979-80) and CKNY-TV in Ontario (1978-79). In 1978, he was the news director for CKNS Radio in Espanola, Ontario.

An all-star defenseman in the Montreal junior leagues, Saunders received a scholarship and played hockey at Western Michigan from 1974-76.  He then transferred to Ryerson Polytechnical in Toronto, where he was an all-star on the Ontario University Athletic Association.

While attending school, Saunders provided news reports for CHOO-Radio in Ajax, Ontario, and continued to play hockey. Saunders’ brother, Bernie, played left wing for the Quebec Nordiques in the NHL from 1979-1981.

Sports TV News

Cris Collinsworth Wonders If Tom Brady Knows Broadcasting Is a Hard Job

“It’s a seven day a week job. For somebody that has reached where he’s reached in the NFL and made that kind of money, I’m honestly really surprised.”

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Many in the sports media industry were surprised by the news that Tom Brady will join FOX Sports as the lead NFL analyst when he eventually decides to end his playing career. That includes the current lead analyst of NBC’s Sunday Night Football telecasts, Cris Collinsworth. 

“I’m a little surprised,” he said on the latest episode of The Cris Collinsworth Podcast. “There’s no amount of money they could throw at him that would have influenced him. He’s going to still be working weekends for half the year no matter what it is.” 

Collinsworth mentioned that he hears from most people and they ask him what the TV life is like when they are thinking about getting into the industry. Tom Brady was not one of those people. He hopes the GOAT knows what he is in for.

“It’s hard. I’m working on the airplane when I’m flying home from the other game. I’m working on the next game. It’s a seven day a week job. For somebody that has reached where he’s reached in the NFL and made that kind of money, I’m honestly really surprised. I guess the money now has gotten to the point where it’s of interest to everybody.” 

While some might be unsure about how Brady will do in the FOX NFL booth with Kevin Burkhardt, count Collinsworth in as one of those people who think Brady will do a great job.

“I think he’ll be fantastic. Every conversation I have ever had with him about the game of football, you always go oh, I didn’t know. He’s always been pretty open and honest with us. He has a real personal side to the game…He’s got it all, but I’ve got to say I am surprised.”

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Sunday Night Baseball Viewership Up On ESPN

“Telecasts are averaging 1.73 million viewers.”

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The first month of the 2022 MLB regular season has concluded and ESPN is celebrating an uptick in viewership for Sunday Night Baseball.

The network announced on Tuesday that viewership for Sunday Night Baseball is up 4% compared to this time last year. In addition to that, compared to the 2020 full season average, ratings are up 40%.

Telecasts are averaging 1.73 million viewers. The Dodgers/Cubs game on May 8 averaged 1.781 million and peaked at over 2.1 million viewers during the 8-8:15 p.m. window.

Karl Ravech, Eduardo Perez and David Cone comprise the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast booth, with Buster Olney contributing reports.

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Nickelodeon Gets Christmas Day NFL Game

“This will be the network’s first regular season game.”

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The NFL’s Christmas triple header will include a little slime this year. The afternoon game between the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos will be simulcast on CBS and Nickelodeon.

Nickelodeon has ramped up its NFL presence each year since 2020. The network has aired a kid-friendly broadcast of a Wild Card Round playoff game each of the last two seasons. Last year’s tile between the 49ers and Cowboys drew an audience of 41 million.

Before the start of last season, the studio show NFL Slimetime debuted. This will be the network’s first regular season game.

Kickoff is set for 4:30 pm Eastern on Christmas Day. No details of what Nickelodeon’s coverage may include are available yet. Nate Burleson, Noah Eagle and Nickelodeon star Gabrielle Nevaeh Green have been on the call of the network’s previous NFL broadcasts.

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